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His vocals are soothing, melodic falsetto rather impressive. And whether you’re willing to admit it or not, the love possessed lyrics sprinkled throughout his third studio effort, Contagious—lick you with a wicked jones.  Tarrus Riley, Culture Music’s newly appointed ambassador, passionately devotes his calling to singing righteous tunes.

Hip-Hop Wired:  The majority of your album Contagious reeks the sweet scent of love, were you “in love” while penning it?

Tarrus Riley: With this album, a lot of people around me were into the love vibe, that’s why I say “Love’s Contagious.” And everyone wants a “Soul Mate,” a person who brings out the better half of you. Tune like “Young Heart” was a special memory…

Hip-Hop Wired:  Of who?

Tarrus Riley: I can’t tell you who…lawd—I’m not gonna tell you that, mi just ah say it was a nice vibe. Hahaaa. Love is like a bottle, you haffi fill it up.

Hip-Hop Wired:  But then you spin it and hit listeners with tracks like “Good Girl Gone Bad” and “S-Craving.” The diversity you deliver is clever; a lot of artists aren’t able to do that.

Tarrus Riley: That’s exactly what I was going for, different sounds. I listen to everything so I want everyone to be able to listen to me. I’ll vibe to Movado, Vybz Kartel, Hip Hop, Dancehall…  I came up idolizing artist like Shabba, Buju, Tiger, Stitchie, love dem kinda vibes deh.

Hip-Hop Wired:  “S-Craving” is serious—it’s virtually the answer to why people cheat. Not to mention the authority you possess while delivering the lyrics and riding the riddim’…

Tarrus Riley: See it deh!  It’s an official song. The smartest people do some foolish tings because dem get a feeling…the strongest people turn into weaklings because dem get a feeling… The S is for Sex Craving and I don’t mean sex the act I mean craving for the other sex like animal instincts—that’s what I’m dealing with. Humans are the wildest animals. Real people seh’ dem strong but when the feeling start hold dem, you find out how strong they really are.

Hip-Hop Wired:  What’s your position on the current state of Dancehall vs. Culture?

Tarrus Riley: Dancehall, One-Drop, they’re just riddims’ for us to put words to. Some artists glorify guns and sex…I’m not here to bash dem. Riddims’ don’t define the message—I have no prejudice in the music. Remember the 90’s, groups like The Fugees, music was Hip Hop but still positive—mi wan bring dat vibe nowadays—offer you another flavor.

Hip-Hop Wired:  Do you feel maintaining an uplifting message can outweigh the degradation being promoted in Reggae music today?

Tarrus Riley: Yes, if it’s promoted! My music need fi be heard. If you hear it and don’t like it, then so be it, but at least give it a chance. People talk about the need for positive music, it’s out there but dem don’t play it. Dem rather tell you dat sex sells from ya born, so when you come with a righteous message, dem say you’re old fashion and boring.

Hip-Hop Wired:  What inspires you to keep creating?

Tarrus Riley: Inspiration to me means in spirit and mi have plenty tings in mi spirit.  Doing this interview with you, my surroundings, my friends, everything inspires me. I love music period, I don’t just love my music. When I’m not singing, I’m listening. It’s just the business aspect that’s a lickle bit frustrating…

Hip-Hop Wired:  What’s your greatest fear in this game Tarrus?

Tarrus Riley: That people won’t receive me and jus mek mi music pass dem by.  I don’t work with fear—it’s disappointing. The greatest ting about what I’m saying, IS what I’m saying.  Tunes like “Start a New” talk about domestic violence and “She’s Royal” uplifts women—real, universal issues mi a deal wid.

Hip-Hop Wired: “She’s Royal” was not only the official empress anthem of 08’ but also inarguably the ballad responsible for establishing Tarrus Riley as an internationally respected artist. Its universal message transcends across the globe—Did you foresee the success of this track?

Tarrus Riley: I didn’t know it would take off that fast and grow so big but I’m happy it did. It’s a good song…the message is strong. Mother, daughter and grandmother would come a concert, rating me for that tune, showing lots of love—feel real nice to touch three generations.

I don’t deal wid prejudice, segregation and dem tings deh. Me’s a Rasta who follow his Majesty and his Majesty say until the philosophy, which hold one race superior, and another inferior…that until the color of a man’s skin is no more significant than the color of his eyes… He’s telling us to deal with truth, respect, manners, courtesy—dem tings deh give you discipline.

Hip-Hop Wired:  That’s real. Once you hold on to those fundamental teachings, your music will be everlasting.

Tarrus Riley: Ya mon.

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